GLASGOW City council spent almost half a million pounds preparing bids for the Levelling Up fund, but never had a chance of winning after a last-minute rule change, our sister title The Herald understands. 

In an ‘explanatory note on the assessment and decision-making process’ produced by the government on Thursday, the Department for Levelling Up said ministers “took account of which local authorities had received funding in the first round, noting that this would help maximise the geographical spread of investment across rounds one and two.”


Effectively, that meant anywhere that was successful last year - which Glasgow had been - was almost certainly going to be unsuccessful this time round.

READ MORE: Dear Michael: You've failed Glasgow. Yours sincerely, Susan

However, Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council said bidders were not told about this in advance, resulting in huge expense to work up the detailed and labour intensive proposals.

In a letter to Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove, she said: “As recently as this week, your officials were in dialogue with ours and at no stage was there ever any suggestion that places successful in Round 1 would not be eligible for Round 2 funding.

"Had this ever been suggested, we would have approached the phasing of our bids differently.

“In short, this was not in fact the open bidding process we have been led to believe it was.”

The SNP councillor said the decision on top of the freeport snub last week meant it was “clearer than ever that the UK Government has no real interest in levelling up.”

“Glasgow cannot be allowed to suffer in this way, and I would once again request an urgent meeting with you to discuss how this can be addressed,” she said.

READ MORE: 'This will close us down': Glasgow charity warns it will close after 25 YEARS

The money is meant to help deprived areas level up. However, some of the projects announced were in relatively affluent areas, including the town of Catterick Garrison in Mr Sunak’s wealthy Richmond constituency which is receiving £19m to regenerate the high street.

There were ten successful bids in Scotland, including £27m for a ferry for the Fair Isle, £20m to refurbish the Palace Theatre and Grand Hall in Kilmarnock, £14m towards redeveloping a car park in Dundee, and £9m to support the demolition and regeneration of two shopping centres and a vacant office block in Cumbernauld.

There was also £18m for three projects in Alister Jack's Dumfries and Galloway's constituency to build “on the boom in staycations and the increased desire for outdoor activity that occurred because of the pandemic.”

Another, £20m will be spent in former Scotland Office minister David Duguid's Banff and Buchan constituency, to help transform Peterhead’s Arbuthnot House into a new “museum, library and cultural hub”, while an aquarium in Macduff will be modernised and expanded.

Despite seven applications, there were no successful Glasgow bids.

The council had asked for help funding the M8 Garden Cap, the People's Palace and Winter Gardens, as well as regeneration projects in Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Maryhill and Possilpark.

In her letter, Councillor Aitken said the city was not receiving its fair share.

She said: “The announcement this morning takes the value of Levelling Up Fund projects in Scotland to £348m.

“Glasgow City, the largest local authority in Scotland with both the greatest need and opportunity, has been awarded 3.7% of this funding.

“Had the fund been allocated on a population basis, we would have received three times as much.

“Had it been funded on the size of our economy, we would have received five times as much.

“Had it been funded on proportion of people living in Scotland’s most deprived communities, we would have received fifteen times as much.

“Nowhere offers a greater opportunity to level up than Glasgow.

“On every one of these metrics, you have failed the city.”

She said the UK Government’s process was not targeting priority areas as promised but was now being spread across “with no apparent targeting of this resource.”

“Some of the wealthiest areas of the country, such as Aberdeenshire, are being supported at the expense of those areas with far greater need,” she said.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Levelling Up Fund is investing in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, spreading opportunity to historically overlooked areas. 

“All projects were subject to a rigorous assessment process under robust, fair and transparent rules, with no involvement of local MPs in the selection process.”

In the first round Glasgow was awarded £13, for Stables and Sawmill project in Pollok Park.

There was also £100,000 for Albert Park in Glasgow’s Southside.